For most of the Bruins, Thursday night marks their first step in a process in settling unfinished business from last June. For three Bruins, it marks the start of a new chapter in their careers.
Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith will all make their Bruins debuts when the team opens the 2013-14 season against the Lightning at TD Garden. Though the three have a training camp and some preseason games under their belts, they know that nothing they’ve experienced in Boston will compare to the first one that matters.
For Eriksson and Smith, the experience should be extra eye-opening. Eriksson spent the first seven years of his NHL  career playing in Dallas, while Smith is entering his second season. Though the Stars drew relatively well last season, coming to Boston from Dallas marks a big change as far as hockey atmospheres go.
“I’ve seen in these weeks that I’ve been here, there are a lot of fans around here,” Eriksson said. “Everyone talks hockey in this town, and it’s nice to be in an environment like that. I’m looking forward to it.”
As for Iginla, his debut in Boston is coming months after initially expected. Iginla infamously chose not to come to the Bruins prior to the trade deadline last season, asking the Flames to instead deal him to the red hot Penguins . After expressing interest in the B’s after the season and signing with them on the first day of free agency, Iginla is happy to be in Boston and is looking forward to not getting booed, as he was around these parts following the trade.
“I’m hoping not,” he said with a laugh. “I hope it’s positive and I want to make a good first impression. My family and I are thrilled to be here, and it’s been a great first month being acclimated and feeling more at home. It’s a great building to play in and a tough building to play in and we want to keep it that way.”
Iginla said he’s been noticed around Boston since coming to the Bruins and that he’s been well-received. He should be, as the longtime Flames captain is one of the better guys in the league.
“It happens a little bit. There are a lot of Bruins fans,” he said. “‘¦ People just wishing you well and saying they’re excited for the year. You can definitely tell it’s a hockey city and people are into it and looking forward to getting things rolling.”
Smith gets to fly under the radar a bit more. All eyes will be on Iginla and Eriksson because of the players they are replacing, but Smith noted he’s still feeling plenty of pressure as he makes his debut. After all, he’s not ready to assume his job is safe given all the competition he has, so he’s approaching Thursday with both nerves and excitement.
“It will be really exciting, for sure,” he said. “There will be a couple butterflies before the game, but it should be a lot of fun, but I’m looking forward to it.